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March 2005
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2005 Mazda 6 S 5 Door

The Good:  Easy entry and exit.  Lots of cargo room.  Smooth transmission.  Exciting exterior looks.  Sporty driving feel. 

The Bad:  Too much hard plastic inside.  Dark interior color does not look good after a week.  Street racer ride.  Road noise, wind noise and engine noise too high.

            The Mazda 6 S 5 Door is another entry into the competitive under $25,000 sedan segment.  There are so many choices around this price range that picking a car is very difficult and the choices are very large.  Do you buy a SUV, sedan, wagon, or some funky mix of all these in a car that usually ends up looking ugly.  The Mazda 6 attempts to blend utility in a sedan like shape for a good looking people and cargo mover. 

The 6 series is available in three different body styles, the sedan, a 5-Door hatchback, and a full size wagon.  The 5-Door hatchback tested here combines the interior room of a sedan with the utility of a large rear door opening and fold flat seats. 

Mazda has become known for producing fun to drive sporty cars and this 6 does not disappoint in that arena as well.  The unique Mazda 6 5-Door features something that this mid-sized segment lacks, utility in a sporty appearance.  The roof slopes rearward for a coupe-like appearance and it is quite difficult to notice that this is not a sedan.  The available Sport model package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a slatted body-color grille, fog lights, sport-type bumpers, side sill extensions and a rear spoiler, as well as side air bags and side air curtains, 8-way power driver seat, and a security alarm.

Besides creating a striking profile, the rear hatch allows wide-open access of up to 58.7 cubic feet of cargo space; only 2 cubic feet less than the wagon version of the 6.  Flip a lever in the back and an enhanced rear-seat folding mechanism instantly creates a nearly flat floor.  This makes for SUV-like utility in a small fun to drive sedan.  The large width of the interior also makes for a roomy experience for people as well. 

The heart of Mazda 6 S models is the 220 horsepower 3.0-liter V6.  This engine delivers 192 lb-ft of torque as well with variable valve timing.  Power is smooth and plentiful, while the lightweight aluminum construction keeps weight down to help preserve outstanding handling and balance.  A 5-speed close-ratio gear box is standard on all S Sport trims, as well as the base Sport Wagon.  The soft clutch really makes for easy shifts and its BMW like smoothness is to be commended.  A standard traction control system and four wheel disc brakes with ABS all helps keep this power under control. 

Three different option packages are available to dress up the exterior, add more convenience, enhance the audio or add more safety features.  To start, you'll find standard air conditioning, keyless remote entry, and power windows, locks and outside mirrors.  Cruise control and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system can both be controlled from the 3-spoke steering wheel, which also tilts and telescopes for a perfect fit.  The driver is treated to an 8-way power seat, and both front seats are heated but the location of the switch is quite difficult to find, hidden under the center armrest.  Outside mirrors are also heated for safer driving in wintry conditions.  Leather seating surfaces are firm and not very supple.  We did like the leather covered steering wheel and shift knob, something that many US automakers forget. 

Occupants are protected by front side airbags and side air curtains with both front and rear coverage, and the vehicle itself is protected by an anti-theft perimeter alarm.  To top it off, there is the striking presentation of bright red electroluminescent gauges.  At night we found the soft red surrounding the ventilation controls to be a great futuristic look.  The exciting and bold headlamps as well as tail lamps also looks very good.

A power moon-roof is of an older build quality and is quite noisy when opened in any position.  We also did not like the way it sucked out air each time we closed it at highway speeds causing our ears to pop.  Your ears will enjoy the 7-speaker Bose audio system which delivers superb bass however.  We wished that power height adjustment was available to the front passenger as well.  We did not like the style of the air vents, with large gaping holes. We also noted that when driving on highways and closing a window, air gets sucked out quickly and creates a uncomfortable experience.  The climate control system is quiet and works well but in auto setting it constantly turns on the air conditioner, which you then have to turn off manually if you want to save some gas.  We suppose it does do a good job of keeping the interior fog free wit h the AC turned on. 

The major faults of the Mazda 6 are best noticed on long journeys.  We did not find both front seats to be very comfortable as their seat bottom is not long enough to be supportive to your legs.  The noise levels at highway speeds are also quite high.  Unless you are on a very quite piece of asphalt, the road noise is very annoying and open any window and you will not be able to speak.  If you are fortunate enough to drive very fast on the highways noise from the engine, wind, and road are enough to cause a headache.  After a long 5 hour drive, we were extremely tired in the Mazda 6 something that is very telling of any car.  The suspension is a bit firm for everyday driving and on bumpy roads it can get dizzying, especially for passengers. For the sporty driver, the precise steering is great but the lack of grab handles on the passenger doors leaves them with nothing to hang on to.  Improvements in all these areas would make this a much better car for daily use. 

At a base MSRP of $23,995 this is no cheap car by any means.  Optional equipment includes the luxury package with leather trim, heated door mirrors, heated seats, and bright gauges for $1,240.  Bose audio and the power moon roof with an in dash 6-disc CD changer adds $1,335. Gas mileage was rated at 19 city, and 26 highway.  Our total price came to $27,115 which is very high compared to cars such as the Audi A4, BMW 3, and Nissan Maxima.  Many lower priced cars such as the Altima have more horsepower at 250 and even the Honda Accord has 240 horsepower.  Comparing this to something like the Dodge Magnum makes for an even weaker case for the Mazda.  While the Magnum is very quiet inside and offers the Mercedes suspension that is so great, it is a much larger car and has a like it or hate it front end.  While the Mazda does offer great exterior looks and a sporty drive, it needs improvement in ride quality and interior noise to make it a superb buy in this segment.  Adding Navigation and some modern features available on the Accord would be even better. 

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 22,131 23,995
Destination 560 560
Automatic, 6-Speed w/Overdrive s Base & Sport 827 950
Bose Audio & Moon Roof Pkg Base, Sport 1068 1335
Leather Pkg   Includes Heated O/S Mirrors, Heated Front Seats & Leather Surfaced Seat Trim. 992 1240

 

  2005 Mazda MAZDA6
s Sport 4dr Hatchback (3.0L 6cyl 5M)
2005 Chevrolet Malibu
LT 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
2005 Honda Accord
LX V-6 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 5A)
2005 Nissan Altima
3.5 SE 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5M)
2005 Dodge Magnum
SXT Rwd 4dr Wagon (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
MSRP $23,995 $24,060 $23,800 $23,250 $25,520
Invoice $22,131 $22,015 $21,417 $21,502 $23,708
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders V6 V6 V6 V6 V6
Base Engine Displacement 3.0 liters 3.5 liters 3.0 liters 3.5 liters 3.5 liters
Valvetrain 24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
12 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
Horsepower 220 hp @ 6300 rpm 200 hp @ 5400 rpm 240 hp @ 6250 rpm 250 hp @ 5800 rpm 250 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque 192 ft-lbs. @ 5000 rpm 220 ft-lbs. @ 3200 rpm 212 ft-lbs. @ 5000 rpm 249 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm
Tires P215/50VR17
all season
P215/60R16
performance
P205/60R16
all season
P215/55VR17
all season
P215/65TR17
all season
Wheels alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
16 x 6.5 in.
steel rims
16 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
Brakes - Front ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc
Brakes - Rear disc disc disc disc disc
Braking Assist Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available Standard
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS - Optional 4-wheel ABS
Traction Control Standard Standard Standard Not Available Standard
Stability Control Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available Standard
De-powered Air Bags Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard
Head Air Bag front and rear front and rear front and rear front and rear - Optional front and rear - Optional
Side Air Bag dual front dual front dual front dual front - Optional dual front - Optional
Navigation System Not Available Not Available Not Available DVD navigation system - Optional Not Available
Turning Circle 38.7 ft. 38 ft. 36.1 ft. 38.7 ft. 38.9 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 15.2   14 cu. ft. 16 cu. ft. 72 cu. ft.
City 19 mpg. 22 mpg. 21 mpg. 21 mpg. 19 mpg.
Highway 26 mpg. 32 mpg. 30 mpg. 27 mpg. 27 mpg.
Length 186.8 in. 188.3 in. 189.5 in. 192.3 in. 197.7 in.
Width 70.1 in. 69.9 in. 71.5 in. 70.4 in. 74.1 in.
Height 56.7 in. 57.5 in. 57.1 in. 57.9 in. 58.4 in.
Weight 3395 lbs. 3315 lbs. 3349 lbs. 3227 lbs. 3895 lbs.
Wheel Base 105.3 in. 106.3 in. 107.9 in. 110.2 in. 120 in.
Interior MAZDA6 Malibu Accord Altima Magnum
Front Headroom 38.7 in. 39.9 in. 40.4 in. 40.8 in. 38.4 in.
Rear Headroom 36.7 in. 37.6 in. 38.5 in. 37.6 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 56.1 in. 56.7 in. 56.9 in. 56.3 in. 58.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 54.9 in. 56.1 in. 56.1 in. 56 in. 57.6 in.
Front Hip Room 54.7 in. 52.4 in. 54.6 in. 53 in. 56.2 in.
Rear Hip Room 54.1 in. 52 in. 53.5 in. 54.5 in. 55.5 in.
Front Leg Room 42.3 in. 41.9 in. 42.6 in. 43.9 in. 41.8 in.
Rear Leg Room 36.5 in. 38.5 in. 36.8 in. 36.4 in. 40.2 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 22 cu.ft. 15.4 cu.ft. 14 cu.ft. 15.6 cu.ft. 27.2 cu.ft.

 

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